In The Jumpseat With Nick Witczak

1.    Where do you see the fire service in the next 5-10 years?

We will all be continuing to do more with less. We as a fire service will continue to face increased call volumes and a lack of resources to handle them. On the positive note I continue to see technology advancements making significant impacts on the fire service and making the fire service more efficient so we can handle the increased responsibilities with fewer resources.
2.    Of what can you see why has there been a decline in volunteers over the past decade?

There are two major reasons that I see as being responsible for the decline in volunteerism in the fire service. The first would be the decline in volunteers being directly related to the economy and the recession that occurred. Many people are having to work 2 jobs to make ends meet or are working longer hours. The second would be increased call volumes and responsibilities on members of departments to answer calls, meet increasing training standards and continue to do activities such as fundraising and conduct department business. It all comes down to time management and what takes the highest priority.

3.    Who in the fire service do you look up to as a mentor?

I have been fortunate to have had several mentors from both the volunteer ranks and the career ranks as well as professors from college. They have certainly been a big part of my life in the fire service. Having the ability to ask questions of a mentor has helped me to navigate difficult decisions and become a better leader in the firehouse. 

4.    What book(s) are you currently reading?

The last book I read was Chief Viscuso’s “Step up and Lead” it was a great read. I am looking around to see what will be my next read. Most days it’s what the hot topic is in Fire Engineering or Firehouse magazine. 

5.    Looking at all the areas of the fire service (engine ops, truck co. ops, technical rescue, etc.), what area or areas do you tend to focus on the most? And why? 

I would say that I am certainly an engine company guy. It’s what I have grown into in the fire service and ultimately is the company responsible for putting the fire out. The technology is changing; the tactics are changing as well.  It is fun though for an engine guy to be able to be a truck company or tech rescue guy for a day. We’ll let the truck company guys have their space doing the vertical vent while they watch the engine guys putting the fire out. 

6.    If you were to leave the fire service today, what mark do you hope to leave on it?

I would hope to leave a positive mark that would resonate for many years. In the fire service you don’t need to ride other people’s coat tails, you can make your own path but always be certain as to which direction you are going to go in, get advice from those who traveled similar paths before and make your own decisions, most of all be yourself and not someone else. 

7.    What advice would you give young firefighters or men and women thinking of becoming part of the fire service?

The best advice that I can give is, have balance and moderation in life. Don’t overdue anything and it will keep you going for a long time. I have worked with many other members of fire and ems and have seen and felt the burnout first hand. Learn to take up a hobby on the side, fire and ems is not a hobby, it can get you and others killed. I took up golf and BBQ cooking as a hobby and love it. 

8.    What is the driving force behind your success?

I would have to say the driving force of success isn’t just mine but it is the success of my mentors imparting their wisdom and knowledge to me as I have continued to grow in the fire and ems services. The best thing I have learned to do is bounce questions off others who have been there before and have learned to develop trust in others so they too would trust me.  

And that's a wrap for our third installment of "Station Talk". In our fourth installment of this series, we will sit down with EMT Sean Walsh and learn his take on the fire service as a EMT and his passion for EMS. 

Until Next Time; Work Hard, Stay Safe & Live Inspired.